February 2, 2016

Becoming Visionaries of the Face of the Divine Child (Metr. Seraphim of Kastoria)

By Metropolitan Seraphim of Kastoria

The Reception of our Savior Christ is simultaneously a Despotic and Mother of God feast, and once again gives us the opportunity to go back to the Spirit-bearing texts of the God-bearing Fathers of our Church, to draw crystal clear water to quench the spiritual thirst that exists within us and around us, which has the presence of sin as its cause.

The Fathers did not write these homilies just to write in their time, but to nourish the people of God, irrigating them with the pure milk of the Faith, but also to shield them from the presence of heresy.

In this heartwarming celebration we will use as a guide a Cappadocian Father of the Church, a bosom friend of Basil the Great, a deep theologian and important orator. It is Saint Amphilochios, Bishop of Iconium.

In his homily titled "On the Reception of our Lord Jesus Christ and to the Theotokos and Anna and Symeon" (PG 39, 43-60), he analyzes all the contents of this feast.

First, through the Prophetess Anna, whose eyes were transformed by the grace of the Holy Spirit and nous was illumined with the inaccessible light, Saint Amphilochios gives us a response to the question: What is Christ?

Here is what the Prophetess Anna says: "Do you not see this Child in the bosom of His mother, being breast-fed?" He who was circumcised on the eighth day, rests in her embrace.

This Child set the foundation of the ages, laid out the earth and "fortified the sea with sand."

This Child in the days of Noah, opened the firmament of heaven.

This Child liberated our forefathers from the land of Egypt through the rod of Moses.

This Child divided the Red Sea.

This Child sent the manna and supplied the land with milk and honey.

This Child is a child as man and without beginning with the Heavenly Father.

He is of a certain age as man, but is above and beyond every generation and age as God.

He mumbles like an infant, but at the same time gives wisdom and the ability of speech.

The first is due to the fact that He was born as man from the Virgin. The second is that He is God Whose existence is unexplainable.

The Prophet Isiah speaks of this child: "For a child is born to us, a son is given to us" (Is. 9:6).

And the God-bearing Father urges us: "Do not overlook without paying attention to the words of Anna, for in that hour she preached the manifestation of the Lord's power."

Second, this feast does not only show us who Christ is, Who is perfect God and perfect man, the Angel of Great Counsel (in the Old Testament), Who was incarnated (in the New Testament), in order to reveal to us the Father, abolish death and grant us eternal life, but it also shows us what the purpose of our life is, which is the vision of His face and our meeting with Him.

The sacred hymnographers of our Church insist on this very much: "Let us inspired sing to meet Christ and receive Him as savior, Who was seen by Symeon" (Sticheron of Vespers).

This vision of the face of Christ always occupied the Righteous of the Old and New Testaments, from Moses who insistently asked, "Show me Your glory" (Ex. 33:18), to the last ascetic and Christian who cries out in silent sighs, "Illumine my darkness" and "Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me."

All this implies we have a similar life, namely being purified, keeping the commandments of God, having a humble spirit, living an ascetic life. It requires crucifying our flesh with its desires, to become visionaries of the face of Christ.

This vision of God is not only for the ascetics of the desert, but for all people. Salvation does not depend on what kind of life we choose to live, but what relationship we have with Christ.

We will achieve this if we implement the way of life of our Church and her method of therapy.

But we have in our lives something very important. We have a key that can open the door of Divine Compassion.

We have one person who leads us directly to the Master Christ. It is the Panagia.

The sacred hymnographer urges us: "Let us run to the Theotokos, to willingly perceive her Son."

This is why the Fathers of the Church in their lives used this secret key, the person of the Panagia that is, in order to reach the vision of the Person of Christ.

The God-bearing Damascene, Saint Gregory Palamas, Saint Nektarios, Saint Sophia of Kleisoura, Saint Porphyrios of Kavsokalyva, Saint Paisios, the chorus of our newer saints remind us that we should be grasped by the hand of the Panagia, by the garment of the Panagia to reach her Son and God.

This is what the Saints did. This is what we should all do. This is why we her children together with the sacred hymnographer, always and especially today, supplicate her:

"Theotokos the hope, of all Christians, cover, guard and protect those who hope in you."

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.